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Absence of sexual health education increases teenage pregnancy

A 2016 report by the National Development Planning Commission indicates that over the past 20 years, Ghana has made significant progress in the area of Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights; however, lack of comprehensive sexual and health education for children and adolescents has partially derailed the progress made.

The report mentioned that in Ghana, Comprehensive Sexual Education is not offered in schools, and there are no national policies or guidelines on what should be taught or not taught.

In the absence of such a policy, individuals are not able to turn to a single document to identify their Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights. Besides persons who necessarily engage with SRHR, such as lawyers, doctors and law enforcement officers are equality not empowered to understand the rights of the persons whom they interact with.

The report, therefore recommends the need for the country to adopt a National consolidated and specific Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights policy.

The report said a comprehensive national Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights curriculum needs to be developed and implemented universally for children in schools and out of schools across Ghana.

According to the report which was produced by Human Rights Advocacy Centre (HRAC), said even though Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) in Ghana are recognized by a range of national policies, women and girls continue to suffer from limited access to comprehensive sexual education, abortion services and contraception.

It said access to health care and services as well as geographical coverage, especially in the rural areas, has increased through the expansion of Community-Based Health Planning and Services (CHPS).

Furthermore, the maternal mortality ratio in Ghana has shown a consistent decline since 1990 from 350 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2010 to 319 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2015.

It adds that the promotion of gender equality and equity, health care, including family planning and reproductive health services, and the prevention of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) have been enhanced.

Sexual health, reproductive health, sexual rights and reproductive rights are four intertwined and often overlapping concepts. None of these four concepts have a universally accepted definition but are generalized as Sexual and Reproductive Health.

SRHR are protected in a number of International human rights instruments, including the convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women; the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The 2014 Ghana Demographic and Health survey found that, overall, 14% of adolescent women age 15-19 are already mothers or pregnant with their first child. Young motherhood is more common in rural areas than in urban areas (17% and 12% respectively). Teenage fertility is lowest in greater Accra (8%) and highest in Volta (22%) according to Human Rights Advocacy Centre.


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